Friday, April 22, 2016

My Little Boy-O



I know many pet owners probably feel their pet is special. I would say that about all the pets that have entered my life, but Romo was truly an extraordinary little being, the best. From the time I first saw him, he became my heart animal. No other animal will ever replace him. There was an instant connection, and our bond grew throughout the years.

We had a lot of nicknames for my wonderful boy. He was my black and white version of the pink panther, my little boy-o, my sweet pea and my darling boy. Others called him Nana or Romo, the latter his given name that suited him well. 

Romo wasn't like most cats. He was exceptionally smart, sensitive, very vocal, and he came when I called him. We did yoga together almost every morning, and he loved the sun as much as I do. Some might think it's crazy, but he was talkative. He must have had a touch of Siamese in him. I will miss those wonderful sounds, his purr, his meows and the funny cooing noises he created. The adorable feline had a personality that I loved, even when he attacked my ankles when he didn't want me to leave the room. He could be so feisty, and it made me love him even more. 

Losing him has shaken my world. I want the world to stop, the Earth to stop spinning, so everyone can acknowledge the loss of such a remarkable and sweet soul. 

RIP my sweet little prince. You are forever in my heart. The world, especially my world, will never be the same without you. What a good boy you were. 


Thank you Home to Heaven for your compassion and kindness on one of the most difficult days of my life. 










This poem has an odd history, but it's all I can think of that fits right now:

W. H. Auden


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. 

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Monday, April 18, 2016

My Fake Birthday

January 21st is my real birthday. That's when I celebrate with cake or a nice meal out or treat myself to some extra alone time, depending on my needs and wants that day, but every April, I give thanks for coming out of a bad case of meningitis alive. There's no specific day or candles or goodies; I just note the month and remember how fragile life can be and how quickly things can change. This month I did things differently, though, and treated myself to something nice.

I recently found out that someone was posting things publicly about me, unkind and personal things, like my unlisted address where I rent a room in Boulder and snide comments about me being a whiner or something. I only saw two of these posts. Apparently there are more. Both that I saw were pointed out to me by a third party, and I wasn't able to find those or any others in searches. Since these things are posted where few people look or care, I'm not concerned. I asked a lawyer about it. Posting someone's private address is a violation for which anyone can be sued, but I don't want to spend the money unless this gets to a point where it's truly threatening or harassment. I'm lucky I'm not dealing with "the Blog Stalker" or anything more terrible. Still, it's an annoyance I'd rather not have to address. The lawyer I contacted is aware, and that road is always an option. My thought about people who do this type of thing is that it shows more about their character than mine.

Someone close to me is dealing with a person who is on an unrelenting, mad quest to spread lies and defame him, and that case seems far more serious to me. It concerns me more, because the aggressor's reality seems to be so skewed. Every time I hear or see more that goes on in this situation, my jaw drops further to the ground. It's one of those things I will never, ever understand, even though I suspect there's a lot of projection going on, which is a common response when things don't go as one hoped in life. Still, it's unsettling that this person's behavior is escalating. Many months before things got out of hand, I told the one dealing with this situation to go to the police to at least file a report. I was floored when the other person went there first with false claims and a list of lies, but as shocked as I was, I should have known that things like this happen. I just didn't think I'd ever see it up close.

Unfortunately, the courts often get tied up with shit like this. When you see a case that involves real threats and possible physical harm or, in the case of a close friend of mine, actual life-threatening violence, these online stalker-like cases look trivial, but when the minor ones are dragged out for months or even years with the same and worsening behavior, it starts to get a little bit scary, even from the sidelines. Unfortunately, the more someone attacks and attempts to disrupt the lives of others, the harder it is to sit back and take it, which was the advice I used to always give. Don't respond. Don't engage. But when things continue to go too far, it's hard to keep saying that. Legal action or, at minimum, responding looks more and more appealing, just to hopefully put an end to things. Fortunately, this isn't my mess to deal with, though it hurts to watch someone I care about have to face it. For both parties, I wish it would stop.

That aside, at times my blog is more of a journal, but I started it knowing I wanted to help others. The struggles I face show that despite dealing with a life-threatening illness (two of them, actually) and minor injuries and general setbacks and an incredible amount of pain, I still show up for life with something to offer others. I work. I spend more time as a mentor in a few online forums than I do offering advice here, and I will be starting a support group of my own next month. I also recently got reconnected to the Humane Society of Boulder where I used to volunteer. It's time to start up again after a break, so I will begin in a new department in May.

My blog sometimes ends up being a good place to vent when I want to prevent the thoughts in my head from doing a continuous loop, and I'm OK with that, even when others might see me as whining. Not long ago, I mentioned that I often forget to post when things are going really well, but I'm working on that. I look at a lot of my ramblings as a way to process when shit gets heavy. And through it all, I keep a commitment to my recovery from a disorder that kills more people than any other mental illness. Make fun of that if you will, but that's on you, not me.

To celebrate April, I made an impulse purchase and got myself a cruiser bike, on sale. It's pink, and it's fucking awesome.







A woman has to be intelligent, have charm, a sense of humor, and be kind. It's the same qualities I require from a man. -- Catherine Deneuve

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pain

I've decided that if people can't be civil and have to hurl insults instead of being able to have an adult conversation, I won't engage. This comes after some lady stooped to low levels on Twitter when I voiced an opinion. I don't remember her name, Abby or Jamie or something. I had never heard of her before a friend of mine tweeted something about her. The lady is a pro-life advocate. The story goes that after she had two abortions, she decided she wanted to tell everyone else they shouldn't have one. That in itself is fine, but I fully believe in freedom of choice. What seems to get lost on people is that saying that doesn't make me pro abortion. 

I have friends who are pro-choice and believe in God, and we get along just fine. There's a mutual respect that seems to be lacking when it comes to some hardcore pro-life supporters. 

Anyway, when someone throws out stupid, stupid comment or any other insult or personal attack, I shut the conversation down. It's weird to me that someone who claims to be all about God feels like it's OK to stoop to this kind of level. The whole angry, in your face, aggressive, put words in your mouth style of arguing is upsetting to me, and I would rather do something productive instead of get into it with someone who makes assumptions, doesn't fully read what his or her opponent writes, and can't help but be mean. I will defend myself, but at some point a line must be drawn.

When this lady asked me something about whether or not I believe alcoholics should be able to talk about their experiences or some such nonsense (well, it's really just unrelated, not actual nonsense), I had a feeling things were going to get wacky fast, and they did. No, that's not what I was saying when I simply noted that I think people should be able to choose and find it odd that someone who had the luxury and freedom to do so would want to get involved with and influence someone else's personal choice. Getting abortions and drinking alcohol are not remotely close in terms of anything, really, except they are both legal.

Lately, I've witnessed a lot of crazy internet stuff, from stalkers to trolls to wars of words. I don't even like seeing it. I feel better when I'm helping others. This last thing on Twitter was a good reminder that I need to stay focused on building up those who need help and ignore unkind people I've never met who want to tear others down. I can't believe that makes people feel good.

Enough on that.

Things are improving with my feet, but it has been somewhat slow going. I'm in a better space than when I wrote what follows, but I still need some time to heal. I'm getting answers and seeing both my PT and my doc about the nerve issues.

*******************************************************************

When dealing with pain, it's important to stay one step ahead of it, so I have been told. Unfortunately, I'm the type that seems to get three steps behind before I even recognize how bad it is. Plus, nerve pain is tricky to deal with. The sensations range from burning, pins and needles and numbness to stabbing, throbbing blasts of misery that make you want to scream. With nerve pain, it messes up your brain. It's fatiguing, distracting and flat out uncomfortable. I feel like I must look like Bill the cat, because I'm fried from having to deal with all this discomfort.


I learned recently that being susceptible to nerve issues can be genetic. I believe it, because otherwise it would be a strange coincidence that I would develop similar nerve-related issues every time I have an operation on my feet. You might have guessed by now that I'm dealing with more nerve issues than I started with, this time in both feet. Pain aside, my life is going well, especially in terms of my job, which I love and know how lucky I am to have.

The surgeries:

On my left foot, the goal was to decrease the pain I was having with some nerves that were trapped in scar tissue by cutting a section of the nerves higher up on my foot. The surgery went fine, but I ended up having phantom pain when the severed nerve endings kept active. Phantom pain sounds like it's not real pain, but I can assure you that it is. It feels exactly like the nerves are still intact, because they still fire and send signals to the brain. On top of that, I developed more scar tissue from the new incision, and that made for even more trouble. That should all calm down at some point.

The right foot was more complicated, and the result has been far more distressing. My doctor did a tendon release, so that my second toe would go back into its normal position. It was getting a little too friendly with my big toe. Post-op healing was coming along very nicely until about a week ago when all of a sudden, a big ball of scar tissue developed that trapped yet another nerve. In addition, the toe pad tear isn't fixed, which wasn't going to be a problem had the nerve and scar tissue situations not developed. The combination of everything has made it such that I'm developing a hammer toe, and I'm in an incredible amount of pain. My PT helped relieve some of the scar tissue/nerve pain with Graston, though, so I'm grateful for that. I'm just trying to get through each day without giving in too much to the demons in my head.

 My doctor and PT have been great. I'm very happy with both. I still think my doc is one of the best podiatrists in this area. In addition to the genetic component I'm dealing with, there's also the structure of my feet to consider and the healing process in general, which is different for everyone. My healing didn't go as planned this time, even though I was careful about not doing too much too soon. Shit happens, as they say, but I'm managing. I'm present and aware, and I'm working on staying that way.

************************************************************

Since I wrote that, I got a shot of cortisone and some PT and a tape job that has helped relieve some of the super sharp pain, so things are going more smoothly. 

I still have hope, and that's a good thing. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Bad Guy

In my late post, I got carried away focusing on people who blame others for every issue they have, but it was cathartic for me to put it out there. In general, I don't believe most people or even many people do this. It's more that the ones who do often make a big stink about it, making it hard to ignore.

If I had a superpower, other than an abnormally keen sense of smell, which sometimes mikes life challenging, I'd make a good superhero. I like justice in the world. It drives me into a tizzy when I see people lie, stir up shit, steal or intentionally hurt others. When anything like that goes down, I want the perpetrator to be exposed to the world. I want everyone to know the truth, period, but sometimes you have to let things go and trust that the truth will eventually surface. I keep hoping a little poetic justice will find its way into various situations, and chances are it will. It's better to have hope than to go through life thinking people who behave badly will prevail.

Slight left turn...

In an online eating disorder forum in which I am a mentor, one of the members posted something about how people will always hurt you, disappoint you and put you down. Because people will never have your best interest in mind, you should turn to God. Naturally, this made me cringe, even though I'm sure there will be times when people won't be perfect.

First, I don't believe that the majority of people can't be trusted. Yes, some people are terrible and hateful or will disappoint you. It's important to find select individuals you know you CAN count on, though, even if it means seeking out a therapist or support groups. Self reliance is probably better than turning to anyone or anything, not because people are inherently shitty but because there are times when others might not be available when you need or in the way you want. This doesn't mean you have to blame anyone. It can often be a matter of a person not knowing how to be there for you, or you not being able to ask for what you need.

Second, I still can't figure out why turning to God is the answer if you have a problem. There are hundreds of solutions to various problems, and wishing a deity would relieve your woes might not actually solve things, whereas taking action might. I hate getting into religion and don't want to pass judgment on anyone  --you're free to believe what you like -- I just wish that people wouldn't over simplify an issue by tossing out statements about turning to God. The implication is that if you are good enough and believe hard enough, you won't suffer, which isn't always the case.

I don't think it's necessary to look at the world as a perpetually hostile place. It's likely you will encounter some nastiness in life, but it doesn't mean everyone is out to get you. Many people will be on your side. Sometimes perfect strangers can end up being your best allies.

On a side note, I forgot to mention a cool website that provides stories, inspiration and articles relating to mental illness, disability and disease. One of my letters was published here: The Mighty

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Give Me Love Over That, Whatever It Is

I see I have let my blogging slide again. I feel bad about neglecting this blog, but I also miss writing in my Say Cheese! blog. The Gouda cheese with truffles sits without mention, even though it's my new addiction. Actually, it doesn't sit long. I buy more with every intention of carefully analyzing it and letting everyone know about the wonderful subtle and less subtle flavors, but I end up gobbling it down, an excuse to continually buy and eat more. Truthfully and unrelated to cheese, I'm in a bit of a funk. It's that time of year, I guess, but there's more going on than just a seasonal shift. There's a lot on my plate, not literally, even though I just made reference to eating a lot of dairy.

I haven't written much here lately, because I'm dealing with a lot. Sadly, there are also people I know who are going through some intense experiences. Still, when it's your itch, however that saying goes, you can't help but notice it, and I'm all itchy, so to speak. Maybe ache would be a better word there, not itch.

Here's the short list:

1. My mom has cancer and is going through radiation on her nose. She is an amazing woman and tough like you can't even imagine. I love her so much. We are all trying to remain optimistic, and she seems to be handling everything well.
2. My cat and best little buddy is in kidney failure and recently had a seizure. He is doing OK, all things considered, but I'm worried to death about him. He is such a sweet guy, smart, curious, talkative in his own language and all kinds of adorable.
3. I recently had double foot surgery. It has been incredibly painful and flat out hard. There's no way to make something like this fun. Yesterday, I wore real shoes for the first time in forever, but I had to switch back to comfortable footwear as soon as I could. Ouch.
4. Someone I don't know decided to post my private address on a public blog, so I have had to find and hire a lawyer, which is a complete drag.

I look at that list and think it's a lot, but then I'm reminded of those I mentioned, some who are very close to me, who are going through a lot worse. There's a lot of heavy shit going on right now.

Right in the middle of dealing with everything, I ended up having to endure a long and very weird day. I won't go into detail, and I want to put that whole mess behind me for good. Please let it be the end, I say to the gods I don't believe in. This and seeing so many other displays of confusing and slightly disturbing behavior made me wish I had more compassion right now, but it's not easy to feel a whole lot for people who intentionally create conflict and then play the victim. Plus, my tolerance for intentional bullshit has always been low. This kind of situation seems to be going on everywhere, from the violence at the Trump rallies to kids on the playground to reality TV to people in the neighborhood. I believe you see messed up behavior more so lately than in the past, but I could be wrong. Either way, what's going on in the world, whether it's a continuation of the past or something new, is terribly upsetting.

I keep thinking about a story that featured a little boy who ran around on the playground throwing rocks at the other kids. He would sneak up on them, toss a small pebble or rock and run away as fast as he could, giggling to himself, thinking about how sly he was. One day, he got caught, and another kid yelled at him. As he was running away, he tripped and scraped his knee badly. He wailed and screamed until a teacher came running. "What happened?" she asked. "He pushed me!" the kid cried, pointing to the kid he had just targeted earlier. Even though the kid who had been hit by rocks time and time again denied touching anyone, the teacher immediately sent him to the principal's office and took the wounded kid to see the school nurse. 

As the nurse applied a Band-Aid, the sneaky kid told her stories that he created in his conniving little head. He claimed the other kids were always picking on him and the one he said pushed him was a big bully. None of it was true, but he ran with his story. Knowing most of the other kids involved, the nurse had her suspicions, but she didn't feel it wasn't her place to assume this kid was lying. Of course, the other kid had his version of things, and the principal was getting an earful while the nurse listened to a wild story grow. 

In the end, nobody won. It was a "he said he said" situation, but all the other kids knew what was going on. The nurse and the principal assumed what was real, so neither kid was really punished or rewarded. Unless caught in the act, not much can be done. It's not a very good ending. You would hope that the kid throwing rocks would learn some kind of lesson, but that's not the way things went down. Chances are, the kid continued to throw rocks and then blame others when anything bad happened to him. 

In these kinds of situations, it's hard to feel compassion for the bratty kid who threw rocks, even though the assumption is that there must be something very wrong for someone to behave that way. Generally kids who lie and act out are dealing with a lot of emotional unrest, their own inner demons or some kind of physical or emotional abuse from someone close to them, past or present. The big problem is that their bad behavior affects others, and if it goes unchecked, the behavior worsens and spirals into more and more incidents. I keep trying to understand why older people end up being this way, but I think a lot of it has to do with being unable to accept responsibility and never getting to the root of their issues.

Taking responsibility for your life and your actions must be addressed in recovery. It can be a very difficult step to own up to any pain you have caused others and recognize the opportunities you may have lost for yourself due to addiction or an eating disorder. It's something I have faced. Putting the blame elsewhere can be so much easier. All too often people blame parents, friends, family members, teachers or mentors for their own issues. That doesn't help you grow. Taking responsibility allows you to move on and head in new directions. Blaming others keeps you stuck and resentful. Decisions you make have consequences. It's important to avoid denying this, especially as an adult.

Obviously, there are some cases in which the victim truly is or was at the mercy of someone else. A friend of mine was almost killed by her ex, yet I see her dealing with any related issues in an incredibly mature way. Yes, her ex deserves the blame, all of it. I'm definitely not addressing those kinds of situations here, nor am I suggesting that children have the skills to address acceptance and take responsibility without some guidance. I'm basically talking about people who poke the bees and are then horrified when the buzzing insects get angry.

Right now my thoughts are with people, friends and family, who are dealing with some very serious issues: death, threat of death, illness, injury and more. That's where my focus needs to stay. A big thank you to people who have reached out to me while I'm going through all that I am. Your kind words and thoughtful comments on social media and in person are truly appreciated. I'm very lucky to have such nice people in my life.

Despite going from feeling numb to feeling upset and back to feeling numb lately, I have some hope. Things will change, hopefully for the better and hopefully soon.



"Motherfucker, I'll be back from the dead soon."  -- AWOLNATION

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Big O

I'm sure I'm not the first to express disappointment in the big O, Oprah, that is. What I mean to say is, Fuck You, Oprah.

When I saw the Weight Watchers commercial starring the big O, I immediately knew there was something suspicious about it. It turns out, the billionaire acquired 10 percent of the company, and don't you know that their stock soared right after the ad aired? Who would have thunk it? Certainly not the former talk show host. Of course not. She just wants to help people.

You see, it's not enough to be one of the most recognized names in television. It's not enough to be a billionaire, and it's definitely not enough to win medals and get honorary degrees. No, if you're not THIN, none of that matters, right Oprah? Being thin is what life's about.

When you look in the mirror, Oprah knows you're not supposed to see something you like; you're supposed to hate yourself and pick on every flaw. Then you can turn to the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry for help, yes? Take this or that pill. Nip or tuck here or there, or simply call Weight Watchers. Oprah knows you want to.

Oprah claims, "Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be..." followed by a lot of blah blah.

Some people are calling this inspirational. I call it bullshit, complete and total bullllllllllshiiit. You may not be confident and secure in who you are, dear O, but many people of all shapes and sizes are.

Stop inflicting your insecurities onto others. Go back to your charity work. You were more likable when you were doing that. Mostly, just shut the fuck up and stop damaging the impressionable minds of young individuals and people who might be hurting with your quest to make yet more fucking cash.

Disgusting.

Meanwhile, France has taken one small step in the right direction by banning models who are at an unhealthy and potentially dangerous weight.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Art of the Relapse

Why are relapses so common, and how do you get to a place where you no longer fall into those dark holes? A relapse takes planning or at least some specific steps leading up to it. It doesn't usually occur out of the blue. Forgetting or refusing to use the tools of recovery is what will land you in a relapse. Once you have recovered, you always have tools at your disposal; it's up to you whether or not you use them.

If you look at any addiction, relapses are the norm. Statistically speaking, you are more likely to relapse at some point than fully recover. Considering that a relapse with anorexia could mean death, I know how lucky I am to have escaped the clutches of that hellish illness. What was it that allowed me to beat the odds?

The way I look at it, choosing to recover in a moment isn't as difficult as making a commitment to recovery. Both take courage, but one takes courage and continual hard work. It's a little bit like the resolutions people make at the beginning of the new year versus making lasting lifestyle changes. Most people say they want to exercise more or change a bad habit, and they might start the year off smoking less or exercising more. It's rare that people continue these changes throughout the year, though. That's because the commitment has to be reaffirmed every time the temptation to go back to old ways rears its head, and, in recovery from addiction or eating disorders, the temptation crops up a lot, especially in the beginning stages.

One of the reasons why relapsing is so common is because you have to stay one step or many steps ahead of the illness or addiction. You also have to let go of something that can feel like a security blanket, and that is scary. Ultimately, you have to find and trust yourself, and then form a new identity apart from the illness.

Many people claim that they want to get well, but they are not willing to give up certain aspects of the illness. I can think of one woman in particular who often says she wants to recover, but she wants to do it within her own unrealistic guidelines. For example, she wants recovery, but she is unwilling to give up restricting and counting calories. She wants to get well, but she is unwilling to gain weight. She wants to be healthy, but she refuses to stop focusing on exact food exchanges and the exact amount of exercise she engages in each day, every day. These are conflicting goals. There's no room for real choice, no real options in her life other than which low-calorie snack she chooses or how she will skip or replace this meal if that meal is XX calories more than she determines it "should" be. What a nightmare. You can't have it both ways. Yes, change is hard, but you can't expect to get well while hanging onto the very behaviors that are keeping you sick.

Please note that I'm not talking about using a meal plan as a guideline here. That is fine, especially in the beginning stages of recovery, but if you can't or won't allow for some looser rules here and there, some variety now and then, you probably won't get very far.

Some people give up their unhealthy patterns for a while, but then, when it starts to feel too uncomfortable, too painful, too hard or too unfamiliar, they revert back to old habits. It takes tremendous courage and strength to keep moving forward when you are scared and hurting.

One of the best concepts I have heard regarding recovery from bulimia is that the best way to stop binging and purging is to stop dieting. When you learn to give your body what it needs, you are far less likely to end up in those big swings of starving and then binging and then purging and then restricting and suffering through all of it. The same can be said of any addiction. The more you take care of yourself every single day, the more you will uncover the ability to stay on a healthy path. The more you are aware of why you rely on the unhealthy patterns, the more you can find new, healthier ways to cope.

A good exercise is to describe in detail what you want your life in recovery to look like. If you find that you are too afraid to give up certain behaviors or are unwilling to try new, healthier behaviors, ask yourself if you are truly ready to change. If not, explore the reasons why you don't want to make the necessary changes. It helps if you have some guidance from a professional or a close friend.

When I first made a committed attempt to get well, I was fortunate to have some guidance from someone who had been through a similar series of events. Focusing on one change at a time was helpful, but the main thing for me was to eat at least three meals every single day, no matter what. That was my first commitment, and I stuck to it religiously. I still do. I was reminded that people all over the world eat three to five meals a day without getting fat, and that gave me hope. It reassured me that I didn't have to starve myself. I could be active, healthy and not balloon to an absurd weight. But the first year, maybe even longer, was not easy. I was challenged in all areas, and it was more of a struggle than not. In the end, it was all worth it, but I can understand why people get cold feet when trying to heal.

But that's the only way to get to the other side. You have to go outside of your comfort zone in order to change. When you're ready, it's not as much of a struggle. With support, it makes the transition easier. In the beginning stages, though, you have to wake up every day and ask yourself how you are going to stick to your recovery. What specific actions are you going to take to stay well? For some, it's more of a moment-to-moment thing. You just have to trust that it will get better, but you have to keep committing to your health.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Setting Boundaries

Sometimes my brain is filled with so many fragmented thoughts, it's hard to know how to sort it all out. With some added stress in my life, the sorting process becomes even more complicated. Rather than fight it, I'm going to accept that this post will probably be a little bit disjointed, just me dumping my thoughts somewhere, so they don't keep clogging my brain.

This morning, I read a free very short book about how to overcome binge eating disorder. I was curious, because it's my feeling that all eating disorders are related, even if the symptoms of each are different. The author offered some good advice, but a lot of the material was poorly documented and contained inaccuracies. With anyone being able to call themselves an author these days, it's important to do your own research. I suppose if there's at least some good advice in the book, it's worth reading, but this isn't one I would recommend. I think Geneene Roth and others do a much better job of offering valid information about binge eating and how to overcome it.

What's more on my mind lately, aside from a lot of personal stuff, is an incident that occurred in one of the eating disorder forums I'm in on Facebook. I don't want to go into too much detail, because it seems like that would be a violation of trust in the group, but I want to bring it up in a vague way in order to point out how difficult it can be to step into the role of a mentor.

Basically, the incident can be broken down into some simple parts.

1. Some people are too sick to see outside their own illness.
2. Those who are suffering intensely often don't realize how hostile they can be to those trying to help.
3. People who aim to help have no way of knowing how another person will interpret what's being said, and a person who is not well may not be in a position to absorb what's being offered.
4. Anything in written form can be difficult to interpret when facial expressions and intonation are lacking.
5. Trying to help someone who isn't ready for a change can be exhausting and frustrating.
6. Just because I'm on the recovered side of my illness, it doesn't mean that I'm immune to getting hurt. When others are mean, I still feel it. I no longer use it as an excuse to hurt myself, though.
7. Sometimes it's better to remove yourself from a situation if you feel it's too unhealthy, and being exposed to someone else's constant struggle and continual complaining can definitely be an unhealthy distraction. Know where to draw your own lines.
8. Taking care of yourself is not being selfish.
9. Try not to take what mean things someone in the throes of any illness or addiction says personally.
10. Make sure you get the support you need if you are dealing with someone in your life who is not well.

With all this said, I am still glad that the group I'm in is tolerant of people struggling, because I left a different group when one of the moderators came off as way too unsympathetic to those posting. I don't think it's helpful for anyone reaching out to be faced with unkind comments from someone who is filled with loads of anger. People with eating disorders can be highly sensitive, so a harsh response to someone really struggling can potentially cause a lot of harm. I don't like to see anyone being attacked or put down for reaching out, so I decided that group wasn't for me. I can offer help in other places, and people can take it or leave it.

On a completely unrelated note, yesterday, I was heading home from a run on the trails. My feet have been more sore than usual, so I have been forced to back off any real running and settle for plodding. Fortunately, after one upsetting dog encounter a few weeks ago, I've had pretty good luck with people being fair about sharing the trails. I'm the type who often jumps out of the way if someone else is determined to be a trail hog, but most people are nice and courteous. Yesterday, I wasn't so lucky.

Since the trail I was on was wide enough to comfortably accommodate four individuals walking shoulder to shoulder, I wasn't worried when I saw a large group of people walking toward me. I assumed the crowd would part, especially since I had moved to the very edge. Pretty much everyone let me by, but nobody really gave me the room they could have. I moved further to the edge. Bringing up the rear of the group were three guys who clearly did not want to let me by. I had eye contact with the one closest to me, and, instead of taking a wee little step to his side of the trail, he stepped further into my path, leaving me no room to pass.

My choices were to stop, to jump off the trail or to keep going come what may. I decided I was sick and tired of always being the one to jump out of the way for other people and continued, still hugging the very edge of the trail. Our shoulders collided, but nothing really came of it. He kept going, as did I. Still, I couldn't help but think what an ass this guy was.

On a more positive note, I watched the online presentation of the World Master's Chocolate competition held in Paris. It has inspired me to eat and enjoy more chocolate, as if I needed an excuse.




Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Interview With Suzy Favor Hamilton

In 2012, I did an interview with Suzy for Competitor.com. Recently, I caught up with her again for another interview, this one about her book, "Fast Girl". Thank you, Suzy, for your thoughtful responses and for helping to raise awareness about mental illness. You are forever an inspiration both on and off the track. 


Suzy Favor Hamilton's book, "Fast Girl" covers her life as an Olympic runner and, later, as an escort in Vegas.


Interview with Suzy Favor Hamilton 2015


What was it that got you interested in running, and how old were you when you started?  

As a young girl around age ten, I discovered my love for running while running in the woods and pretending to be a horse. It felt so natural, and it made me feel happy. I didn’t understand what it was doing to my brain at the time, but I quickly clung to it.


At an early age, you seemed to be a perfectionist, determined to be the best. What were some of the outside forces driving this need to be number one, or was this something that was entirely internal? 

It was mostly internal. It’s been pretty well established in the book and other media that I felt this need to please, this need to bring happiness and pride to my family through my running, making up for what I saw as a family in silent pain from what was happening with my brother and his illness (bipolar). I saw the effect this had on my parents and wanted to do my part to make them happy. This only increased as time went on. 

My dad was very involved with my running, and that put a silent pressure on me.  Back then parents had to be involved, because young runners needed to travel to other states for the big races. There weren't many local races to run in. I began to feel at a very early age that I had to be perfect, not necessarily who I wanted to be. I believe a factor in what happened in Vegas was this repressed desire to finally be the “bad girl”. I really believe that, as do my doctors.


In your book, you mention that your brother was bipolar. How was it growing up with someone who had trouble regulating his moods? How did you and the rest of your family cope? 

It was extremely difficult, because it was never really explained to me growing up, not as well as it should have been anyway. I saw his anger, his recklessness, his overall misbehavior, and just could not understand it. I just wanted him to STOP! My parents did what they could for him as far as getting medical attention, but it was never discussed in the family, at least not with me. Nobody really understood it. I know they tried to shield me from his behavior, but it was impossible to do. The focus was more on the behavior and not the illness behind it.


Despite tremendous support from friends and fans, you have been strongly criticized for coming off as insensitive to those around you while you were working as an escort. Can you give critics a better idea of what it's like to be driven by an imbalance of neurotransmitters, especially in the manic phase of bipolar disorder? 

For me, during that 1.5 year period, I was in a pretty constant state of mania. My doctors attribute this to the Zoloft, an anti-depressant I was put on in early 2011. With the illness, comes this insatiable desire to get and keep the high. You do all you can to get it, even if it’s at another’s expense. It comes across as selfish and narcissistic, attributes often associated with mania / bipolar. You also can experience irrational thinking and behavior. While I knew what I was doing and made the series of decisions I made, looking back, I cannot say I made them with a clear mind. Sex was always at the forefront of my mind, and I acted accordingly. It all seemed perfectly rational to me at the time. My husband was the one I saw as irrational. Why was he objecting to my behavior? I was happy, independent, in control of my life, for once.


I mentioned in a recent blog post that the drug Zoloft is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Too much dopamine in the brain can cause unwanted behavioral changes, especially in those who are bipolar. How did Zoloft affect you when you were taking it?  

It triggered my mania, in a HUGE way. I went on it in March 2011, and my husband and I had our threesome in May, which kind of flipped the switch for me. You see, I had never been diagnosed as bipolar. I went to a general physician who, after a 10-minute consultation, put me on Zoloft, an anti-depressant. It’s pretty well established that this is a huge “no-no”. Now, she didn’t know I had bipolar. I didn’t know I had bipolar, but what I wish she would have done is refer me to a psychiatrist. This is evidence of how poorly the current medical system handles mental illness. I was never asked whether there was bipolar in my family, whether there was mental illness in my family.


How have your parents, your family and your husband responded to your book and your speaking engagements around mental illness? 

Everybody has handled it at their own pace and comfort level. Some show their support in different ways. I’m appreciative that my parents, for example, love me and want what they believe is the best for me, but I think it’s safe to say they don’t understand my behaviors, were not very supportive of the book and would prefer me not to speak about mental illness. At one time, that angered me, but I’ve come to realize I can’t force it. They have to go at their own pace. It has to be mentioned that they have had to deal with the shock that their daughter was an escort in Vegas. I get that they’ve had difficulty understanding, and am grateful they show any level of support they can. I know they love me, as I do them. 

My husband has been great, very supportive, though this whole book ordeal has been very stressful for him. I know he’s looking forward to the hype dying down, as it’s beginning to, and us moving on with the rest of our lives. He’s been doing his best to help keep things manageable for me, but it’s been tough for both of us behind the scenes.


People have also criticized you for including vivid descriptions of the sexual activity you engaged in while in Vegas in your book. With the understanding that anyone writing about their vice, be it alcohol, shopping, food or gambling, it seems nearly impossible to describe what was going on for you without including at least some of these details, but what would you say to anyone who thinks you went too far?

The sex is in there to show how out of control things got, to show what was happening in my undiagnosed bipolar mind, which was being fueled by an anti-depressant that was triggering constant mania.

And, you have to understand, the publisher / editor has more control here than most probably realize. In the memoir, we had over 500 pages to give the editor to work with, and the editor obviously preferred focusing on the Vegas stuff. I suppose in some people's eyes, sex sells. I would have rather had fewer details relating to sex and more information about recovery, and I communicated this. Fortunately, some of the passages relating to sex were removed, and more mental illness education was added, along with a recovery prologue. It’s not exactly how I wanted it, but I think it’s a good, effective book that many are relating to.


Have people struggling with bipolar disorder, anxiety or eating disorders reached out to you specifically because of this book, and, in turn, have any readers offered helpful suggestions to you regarding mental illness and any struggles you have or have had to face?  

Yes, both. This has been the rewarding part for me, seeing that sharing my story has helped others. Literally hundreds of notes where someone says they totally relate with my story have come my way. Reading my book gives them the feeling they are not alone. They thought it was only them who felt the way they do, and many are now willing to talk about it with others, get help, etc. Many people have shared with me they have taken an anti-depressant with adverse effects. Reading what I went through gave them inspiration to look at things differently, to get help, etc. Many letters from family members of people affected by mental illness have also come my way. My story seems to help many of them better understand what their loved ones must endure.


In your book, you mention that you lost a lot of weight while you were working as an escort. Do you feel you were dealing with any traces of the eating disorder you had overcome earlier in your life, and how are you doing with that now?  

My eating disorder was related to the lack of control I felt I had in my life when I was young. Also, it was related to the unhealthy perception I had to be thin, to be a faster runner.  When I was manic, though, it was more that I just lost my appetite, and food was something I wasn’t thinking about. I was too driven by the mania to have clear, rational thinking.


How quickly were you able to find a medication or a combination of medications that worked for your bipolar illness? 

I was diagnosed in about two to three weeks. Then, I was put on a mood stabilizer called Lamictal, but at a very low dose, as the primary side effect is a rash that can actually kill you. Once we realized that I did not get the rash, the dose was increased. I started noticing a difference after about two months. During this time, they kept me on Zoloft (the anti-depressant) since they knew I was more susceptible to depression during this time than ever. Once the Lamictal kicked in, then I was weaned off the Zoloft. At that point, it was difficult for me, because the Zoloft always made me feel good / manic. The Lamictal calmed me and provided more clarity, but I missed that high of the mania. I took Xanax for times of heightened anxiety, and still do. I was also put back on the birth control pill to take care of mood swings associated with my period. I had been off that for several years.


Do you think people who are bipolar are diagnosed properly and effectively? 

While some are, in general, I would say, no. One in five individuals eventually diagnosed bipolar are misdiagnosed with depression initially (as I was). Too often, general physicians do the diagnosing and prescribing of medications, as is what also happened with me. The system must change dramatically to make sure everybody has access to a psychiatrist for the correct diagnosis. The good news is that once properly diagnosed, there is hope. Effective medications, therapy, reduction or elimination of triggers and support can all lead to a fulfilling life.



Did your husband see what you were doing as simply a compulsion or a phase that might eventually pass, or was he concerned there was something more going on with you? 

You could say we were leading a life of separation in the months leading up to my escorting. I convinced him on the open marriage concept, as there was very little intimacy in our lives, but we both wanted to stay married primarily for our daughter. So, when I started seeing a male escort and hooked up with a couple of guys, he saw it as a phase, just a girl who had been repressed much of her life experimenting and finding her sexuality. Once the escorting turned into more than a one-time arrangement for discreet sex, he realized something more was going on. From there, it was constant conflict between us.


How did the two of you protect your daughter from any negativity relating to this situation, both in terms of the tension between you and your husband and also the choices you were making, and how have you dealt with explaining to her what happened? 

While I knew what I was doing should remain hidden from Kylie, it was all Mark who did the protecting during this time. She saw us argue a couple of times, but, by and large, our arguing took place when she wasn’t around. Mark focused on what he could control. He learned pretty quickly he could not control me, but he could protect Kylie. Most of his efforts went in that direction. I will be forever grateful that he protected Kylie during that time and never tried to turn her against me.

As for the aftermath and how we handled Kylie, Mark and I separated for a few months after I was outed by the Smoking Gun article. It was best for me to get well first before we tried to work things out. So he and Kylie stayed in Wisconsin, while I was in California getting treatment. Mark would bring Kylie for a quick visit every three weeks during that time. 

Kylie knew before all this that I had dealt with depression, so she had a rough understanding that my brain didn’t work quite right. When things got really crazy after Vegas, he just emphasized that point more. “That’s not your mom.” “She needs to get well.” “She’s going to get well.” As things progressed, I started to come back to Wisconsin every couple of weeks, and gradually, very gradually, things got better. It took about 1.5 years before we really had a healthy family life again. It took lots of therapy, including lots of talking with the psychologist and other experts on how to handle things with Kylie.

As a result, she learned what I had been doing in a kid-appropriate way. She knows about sex. She grew to understand as well as she could. We saw her understand mental illness and encourage her, like everyone else, to focus on the illness and not so much the act associated with it. As a result, we have an incredibly compassionate, and very aware 10 year old. I would say she understands mental illness better than 99% of adults out there. I don’t think we give our kids enough credit for what they can handle sometimes.


Do you feel you understood the potential consequences of the risks you were taking when you were in Vegas? 

Absolutely not. I felt I was untouchable. I felt my husband, the only one trying to pull me out, was being an unreasonable ass. This is the stuff that hurts the most today. I look back and see what I put him through.


What was the turning point? In your book, it seems to be the article that caused you to look more closely at what was happening in your life. Do you think you would have eventually reached a turning point without being outed? 

I believe if I were not outed, I would have kept going with my life in Vegas. I was beginning to engage in riskier and more reckless behavior at the time I was outed. I was picking up clients outside of the agency, in bars. I was taking ecstasy and cocaine was being offered, and I was getting closer and closer to saying yes, anything to bring the thrill up a notch. If I had to guess, I would have become addicted to drugs and kicked out of the agency. Mark would have left and taken Kylie away. I would have gone into a very dark place, and either overdosed or taken my life. I know it sounds dramatic, but that is the path I was on.



There are times you speak in the third person, as if Suzy and Kelly are two different people. Do you try to integrate the two and accept that they are both parts of yourself, or do you really feel like Kelly was a different person? 

I try to separate the two, as that person was not the person I am right now. That being said, there are bits and pieces of Kelly I admire and try to bring into my current life. She had a voice. She was a badass. She was independent and confident and certainly not ashamed of her body or her sexuality.




Was there ever a time when you felt you were working in Las Vegas for the money? 

Well it was always a factor. It enhanced the thrill, the taboo of the whole thing. I had a plan to make enough money, so my husband could quit his job, the job that I saw as destroying our marriage. Remember, this was my unhealthy brain at work here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Four Mile Firefighter 10 Mile

I'm on a posting rampage, it seems, but I wanted to get a quick race report out there before all the details get blurred in my mind.

Sunday was the Four Mile (canyon) Firefighter 10-mile Race on paved and dirt roads. The race starts in Boulder and ends in Gold Hill. Races got to see beautiful scenery along the course with views of the turning trees, the mountains and the big rock formations on the side of the road.

I know these are horrible pictures of me, but they pretty much sum up how I was feeling at the finish. As you might have guessed, I was in over my head. My body was struggling from the start:

Ouch.


Yup, not much I can add to this.

Going into the race, I knew it would be a challenge on maybe not all but many fronts. I'm not in great shape. My mechanics are still way off, and 10 miles seems like a long, long run to me. So, naturally, I jumped in anyway. It's hard to pass up an uphill race when there are so few of them around. That probably wasn't a wise move considering the state of my body and all its twinges and aches. I gave it a shot, though.

It was a long bus ride from the finish line, where we had to park our cars, to the start. Those of us running kept talking about how long the ride down seemed. I could have sworn we were scooting down the hill for days, but it turns out it was only about 20 minutes or so.

Though the day would end up sunny and hot, the morning was cool, no cold. Most of us huddled around the fire pit near the registration table as we waited for 9 a.m. to roll around. Finally it was time to start, so we jogged up to the road and off we went with a police car leading the way.

Almost immediately, a small group broke away forming a large gap, which left me leading the second group. Unfortunately, my hamstring/hips were clicking and catching, so I didn't want to risk pushing it harder than I was, even though the racer in me hated to see that gap getting bigger. My foot was holding up better than it had in past races, though, at least at the start.

Before we even hit mile one, the gap between the two groups was large enough for a second cop car to squeeze in between the two groups, so it made me feel like I was leading the race. Of course, I couldn't back off the pace at that point! I felt obligated to at least hold steady, but my mind went back and forth between wanting to really race and wanting to pull back and make it a fun run for my already hurting body.

I led the second pack for what seemed like a long time. One guy passed me further into the race, but I passed him back. While I was still in front, a group of cyclists cruised by us. I didn't think much of it until the last guy to pass me leaned in and shouted, "You know, it looks like you're not wearing anything under that shirt." I was shocked. Because it had been cold at the start, I wore a t-shirt with shorts. My number was pinned to my sports bra. His comment did not sit well with me. I ditched the shirt a few aid stations after that, because the temperature kept rising. His comment lingered on my brain for a while. Not cool.

At about mile six, things started to fall apart, my body, I mean. Both feet started hurting, and my hips were really locking. In an effort to relieve some of the pain, I skipped, jogged and made funny wiggly movements, hoping something would loosen up my hips and hamstrings. As much as I wanted to push myself in the last miles, my body really wouldn't allow it. It was frustrating, but I had to accept it. A few people passed me. I let them go. I knew I was right on that line and could end up with a full-blown injury if I did much more than jog.

I crossed the line in 4th place. It was a very small race, but it was still nice to feel part of the crowd. Approaching the finish line, I felt mixed emotions: disappointment, sadness, fear, relief and pain. Everyone was so nice, though. I want to be able to run again, really run. I don't know how to get there, but I'm going to keep searching for answers.

Now I'm just taking things very easy, hoping my body will recover, so that I can keep running. I'm back on the bike some, just to keep things from getting worse. I'm glad I did the race, but I can see that I need to figure out how to attack these mechanical issues before I can think about doing more of this kind of stuff.



Looking a little better in the early stages.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton

I'm almost finished reading the book, "Fast Girl" by Suzy Favor Hamilton. It's about her life, her outstanding running career, her family, relationships and her struggle with bipolar disorder. Despite some passages relating to her sexual encounters that were difficult to read in terms of making me feel uncomfortable, I have to admit it's a hard book to put down.

Because I have known Suzy since high school, it was also difficult for me to read about all the pain and mental anguish she suffered. We shared a lot via letters when we were younger, but I didn't know the extent of her struggles.

In one radio interview by John Mercure relating to her book, Suzy was confronted by supposedly hard-hitting questions that were really nothing more than a way for the host to attempt to stir up controversy. He couldn't seem to understand what Suzy was saying, or he simply refused to hear her. Either way, I think Suzy handled herself well.

Mercure was incorrectly claiming that the book is mostly about sex and insisted there were too many unnecessary details about sex and sexual incidents. The truth is that the majority of the book focuses on her life, her challenges, her running career and her relationships, especially the one with her husband. The sexual content is contained within the last one third of the book.

The message of "Fast Girl" is definitely not what Mercure suggests, that working as an escort is glamorous and exciting. If anything, Suzy goes out of her way to describe the many ways in which she was not thinking clearly in the situation, taking risks that she was fortunate to come out of relatively unscathed. Sex was her vice. You wouldn't expect to read an account of a recovering alcoholic's life without reading at least a little bit about his drinking habits. He might even go as far as to say that he enjoyed the feeling of being drunk. Does that mean he's promoting drinking? I think not.

People might assume that there's no correlation between mental illness and an increase in sexual appetite, but if you look at individuals with excessive dopamine levels in the brain, they often exhibit what's called polymorphous perversion or hyper-sexuality. Guess what? Zoloft is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, so when Suzy said that her behavior started to change after taking Zoloft, it make sense to anyone with more than a few brain cells. Probably in people who are simply depressed and not also bipolar, this mechanism wouldn't lead to the same outcome as Suzy experienced.

Having had a backward and intense response to Prozac that made me feel like a completely different person, so much so that my behavior changed in a negative way, I understand what Suzy is saying regarding Zoloft. I believe There's a connection between brain chemistry and abnormal or excessive behavior, be it sexual or otherwise.

If the only message that John Mercure can get out of this book is that having sex with strangers for cash is glamorous, that's sad. It's not Suzy's fault that he is unable to comprehend the words on the pages in a more accurate way, and it just shows that it takes some deeper thought to fully understand mental illness. Suzy's book has the potential to help a lot of people who might be struggling with depression, bipolar disorder, addiction and other mental issues.

One of the most important messages in Suzy's book is that people who suffer from mental illness should't be judged or feel ashamed of themselves.

People will think what they want about Suzy, but I hope that this book will help anyone who is dealing with or anyone who knows someone who is dealing with mental issues feel less alone.

As far as Suzy making money off of this? I don't see anything wrong with that. She made it clear that she is planning to donate at least some of the proceeds to charity, but even if that weren't the case, I wouldn't see a problem with it.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

TedxBoulder

For a long time now, I have wanted to be one of the lecturers selected for the TedxBoulder talks. I was told that they tend to pick people who are part of the in crowd, so to speak. As everyone who has watched these talks knows, the lecturers are generally well-spoken, smart and interesting. It's somewhat intimidating to even go through the selection process.

One thing that's written on the submission form is that it might be beneficial if you have attended lectures in the past, so, for the second year in a row, I bought myself a ticket after being rejected as a speaker. The lecture is going on right now. Obviously, I didn't attend, but I had every intention of going and actually got as far as the check in process.

First let me say that this week, I have been feeling very emotional and sensitive. A lot of stuff is going on, and I also had a bad encounter with a nasty woman who yelled at me. Granted, I was volunteering for something, and got lost on the way there, pretty much missing out on the event. Still, nobody died or was left hanging, and I apologized and even offered several ways I could make up for it. This woman's reaction was so disgusting, I could hardly believe it. How the fuck do people end up so fucking full of themselves? I don't get it. I get anger, but I will never understand why people think it's OK to take that anger out on someone else who is doing the best she can.

During the week, too, some supposed good 'ole Christian boy was a dick after he sent me a private message asking about my religious upbringing. I wouldn't answer him. Later, I and a few others commented on a public post relating to abortions on his facebook page. He is someone who has mocked Caitlyn Jenner, supported defunding Planned Parenthood and is adamantly against gay marriage, which is his right to do but comes off as unkind at minimum.

Initially, I was trying to be nice and thoughtful in my responses, but when he started to act like a condescending ass, I was less nice. He ended up blocking me, because that's the civil, mature Christian thing to do, I guess. Actually, that's not at all true. I shouldn't even be sarcastic about that, because I have many tolerant Christian friends who would never act like that, even if they don't share my beliefs.

By the time today rolled around, I was feeling better, but then some jerk on a bike swerved around me while I was out jogging, squeezing in front of me just as I was going through a small opening in a gate on the sidewalk. I surprised myself by the string of choice words that came out of my mouth. But, really? What the hell? You couldn't wait the entire two seconds for me to go through and just had to whip around, cut me off and zoom through? God, people can be real shits.

This evening, when I showed up at the doors for the lecture, I was early, so I waited until a minute after the doors opened and got in line. I noticed that one of the volunteers was about as unkind as possible to the lady in front of me. She was perturbed, because, even though the email stating that anyone who was attending need not worry about bringing a printed ticket, the volunteer didn't want to bother looking up the lady's name. Fortunately, the lady had her phone and could access her email and also her ticket for the volunteer to scan. I saw that transaction and scouted out someone who appeared to be a hell of a lot nicer.

Score! The young lady who helped me was very sweet. I mentioned that I didn't have my ticket, and she immediately reassured me that she could simply look up my name and allow me inside. She found it right away and ushered me toward the door. Just as I was stepping over the threshold, people who had already gone in were being shooed outside by an angry lady yelling at them. "It's not about the door time," she shouted, "It's about what's going on on the stage!" as if the people who had been instructed to go in were at fault.

At that moment, staring at the woman's contorted face as she shut the door in a grand gesture and twirled around to stomp back into the building, I decided I had had enough of people's bullshit. I turned around and left. I do not want to be a speaker anymore. I don't want to be associated with people who treat other's so badly and appear to think they are better than everyone. No thank you.

I'm fortunate that I have my little platform here to discuss recovery, body image and mental health. I feel very lucky about that.

I was writing a post about Suzy Hamilton's new book, "Fast Girl", but I had to vent about all this first. That post will come later.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Running

I've been hesitant to post about my running progress, because there's a part of me that's hugely disappointed. I'm thrilled that I did more than I thought I would or could this summer, but the athlete that hasn't completely died in me is not happy. Given how often I thought I would have to give up running completely in the last few years, I know I should be elated with where I am, but I can't help but think that I want more.

After the 5K "race" (I can't really call it that, but it was something more than a jog), I realized how beat up my body felt, mostly because the restrictions and imbalances that may look slight are more than meet the eye. They end up causing some major tweaking the faster I try to go. I was forced to back off any kind of training, and finally ended up going back to the doc for some cortisone shots in my left foot. It helps some, but the trade off is that I lose some proprioception each time.

Shots in the foot are never fun, but these were even more challenging, because one nerve is so trapped in scar tissue, the doc couldn't get the needle in very well. Then, once he got it in, he had trouble pushing in the plunger. The other nerve is deep and was also a bit squirrely, rolling around trying to avoid the needle. The end result is that the burning and occasional sharp pains are still there, but they're much more muted. I have some other options to explore, but I've been able to run with a bit less pain lately.

The Rattlesnake Ramble 2015

Well, that was embarrassing...

Over the weekend, I jumped into the Rattlesnake Ramble. I keep wanting to call it the Rattlesnake Rumble, but it's not about snakes fighting. I learned a lot in this race, mostly that I completely suck going downhills. Anything technical isn't quite my thing either. I managed to do quite well on the wide uphill roads, though, and I even made some real runner-like moves out there on those sections. Unfortunately, the downhills and super rocky terrain got to me. One or two of the people who were hiking the gnarly ascents were going faster than I was jogging, but I noticed a few of them were also cutting the corners on the switchbacks.

The recap:

Things started out just fine. I felt pretty strong and was doing well initially. When the sun got in my eyes after we turned onto the first rocky section, I was running blind, and I started to get discouraged. A few people, one of whom threw a hard elbow into my side, passed me while I was trying to figure out how to run by braille. Despite losing some places, though, I rallied and passed a few people back once we hit the main road before the second big ascent.

I also ran right by the water station without realizing that's what it was. Nobody was holding cups of water, so it didn't register until well after I had passed it that a big white table in the middle of nowhere was a water station. D'oh! It seems obvious now, but I missed a much needed drink of anything liquid as a result.

On I charged, though. I sort of held my own, even though I'm not that great on the real technical stuff going up or, especially, down. Because I didn't know where the top was, I was hesitant to really go for it at any point.

The downhill was what did me in. I think somebody's grandma passed me near the bottom of the single-track trail. It was ridiculous how awful I was on this descent. Frustration made me let loose a nice string of expletives while I was dodging people and trying not to trip. Oops. I was basically jogging, just trying to stay upright, though at one point, I did sit down in order to get myself down one of the steeper corners. I also crawled over a rock on the ascent, so I'm guessing I wasn't looking very graceful out there.

I had the feeling that nobody would be around at the finish line, but I somehow managed to not come in last. This may be my worst placement in a small race, but I was second to last in my age group, which means I got 7th in the 40-49 category. The race was limited to about 100 people.

I didn't feel like a runner after that adventure. No more gnarly downhills for me.

I'm just hoping my body can recover enough to squeeze in a few more good workouts and maybe even a race or two before I wimp out in the cold weather and decide to do more stationary biking or yoga. Come on left foot; you can do this!



Making up lost ground where the trail was more runable.

This wasn't even the technical part! 

Heading back toward the road. 

Trying to stay upright.